Politics

Facebook’s ‘Fake News’ Referee Downplayed Jihad

Soros-linked Poynter ran seminar whitewashing the nature and threat of Islamic terror

A prominent online journalism course with ties to liberal billionaire George Soros downplays the significance of Islamic jihad and related extremism, noting jihad-related deaths do not compare to worldwide malaria deaths.

The online course is hosted by the Florida-based Poynter Institute, a journalism ethics and policy think tank, which on Thursday was announced by Facebook as standardizing the code by which all of its fact checkers will abide.

“The ties of this go back to George Soros … When you find liberal money in journalism, George Soros is usually there.”

The signatories on that Poynter list include Snopes.com and The Washington Post.

Poynter has its Islamic course at its “News University” site. Poynter owns the Tampa Bay Times and its PolitiFact operation, which came under sharp attack on Thursday for being one of the possible Facebook fact checkers that will “red flag” so-called fake news.

PolitiFact, like the Tampa Bay Times, is widely viewed by conservatives and Republicans as liberal-biased. The course downplaying jihad at Poynter indicates that Facebook’s “fact-checking” may go hard against news stories that take a tough view on radical Islamic terrorism conducted in the name of jihad.

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“Poynter is supposed to be this great journalistic entity,” said Dan Gainor, vice president of Business and Culture at conservative media watchdog the Media Research Center. “But the reality is they have the same [media] flaws. At the core, it’s left-wing. So it’s not surprising they have a left-wing view of Islamism and how you refer to jihad.”

Gainor first noted the links between the course and Soros in a report by the Media Research Center. The course is funded by the Social Science Research Council, which received $50,000 from Soros for a course on AIDS and HIV.

“The ties of this go back to George Soros,” Gainor told LifeZette on Friday. “When you find liberal money in journalism, George Soros is usually there.”

In 2011, Gainor estimated Soros has given about $52 million in journalism grants.

The Poynter course tries to play referee between those who believe jihad can be used the same way as Christians use “just war” — and those who believe in violent jihad. The course warns journalists must not elevate the beliefs of radical Islamists over moderate Muslims.

“In reporting on these debates — as in reporting on all religious matters — do not claim or imply that one side is more authentic than another. To do so would be akin to serving as an arbiter of Islamic jurisprudence,” the course states.

The course then downplays the disturbing number of Muslims who believed the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were justified.

“Gallup polls in a number of Muslim-majority countries in late 2001 and early 2002 found that only one in seven respondents believed that the attacks of 9/11 were justifiable,” the course states. “Within this one in seven, most followed movies, television series, and game shows; they were more likely than other respondents to read art books and novels and to favor ‘living in harmony with those who do not share your values.’ These are not al-Qaida characteristics.”

The course also suggests Americans and others are not likely to be affected by jihad-related attacks.

“Within the United States, the death toll from jihad is dominated by the approximately 3,000 people killed on Sept. 11, 2001. From Sept.12, 2001, until the end of 2010, there were 161 Muslim-American terrorist suspects, with approximately 33 fatalities,” the course states. “To give those numbers some context, the FBI reports that approximately 15,000 people in the U.S. are murdered each year … As a result, news consumers have developed a skewed impression of the prevalence of jihad, relative to other forms of conflict.”

Yet there is no doubt that violent jihad aimed at Western nations is a fuse. On Sept. 11, 2001, that fuse led to a global explosion that dragged multiple nations into war with at least two Middle Eastern nations — for years. Gainor said the explaining away of jihad-related killings is standard operating procedure for U.S. journalists.

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“They go out of their way to avoid tying Muslims to terror. It’s their worldview,” said Gainor on Friday. “No matter how much Islamic terrorism there is, they don’t want to talk about it.”

Some conservative media observers note how the media downplay radical Islamic terrorism, but engage in fury about “fake news” and Russian spying.

“This is why you are hearing so much about fake news,” said Gainor. “This is their way to target conservatives and it’s the media’s way to point fingers.”

In related news, on Friday Brent Bozell, the president of the Media Research Center, said he has made clear his feelings on the fact checking operation at Facebook with the Facebook CEO himself.

“I have been in communication with Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook since he announced their new ‘fake news’ initiative,” Bozell said in a statement. “I expressed grave concern with this decision and the liberal ‘fact-checking’ organizations Facebook has chosen. Mr. Zuckerberg assured me that his express aim is to eliminate only patently false news stories from Facebook. He underscored he has instructed these organizations to focus only on truly fake news and nothing of a political nature.”

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Political reporter, LifeZette. Indiana University journalism grad. Boston U. business grad. Former Indiana, Alabama statehouse reporter, Daytona Beach editorial writer.

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